Highlights from the 2014 edition include Hurray for the Riff Raff, London Grammar, Eagulls and the new Billboard chart-topper Schoolboy Q.
5 SXSW STANDOUTS TO SEE LIVE
London Grammar — The lightly techno, coolly dramatic British rock band is fronted by the most impressive genuine talent I saw at the festival, Hannah Reid, a scrawny 23-year-old with a voice like gold; or maybe even like multi-platinum, since she came off as an electronic Adele. (April 3 at the Varsity Theater)
Schoolboy Q — Kendrick Lamar’s former hype man is arguably more compelling out front than his cohort is, with the raunchy but rich wordplay from his new No. 1 album, “Oxymoron,” and good humor between songs. (April 20 at Mill City Nights)
Eagulls — Not much to look at, this young quintet from Leeds, England, is certainly exciting to hear in concert, with loud echoes of PiL’s and the Pixies’ reverberating roar and explosive crescendos. (June 9 at 7th Street Entry)
Against Me! — Nothing has changed with the visceral, all-go Florida punk quartet except the personal journey powerfully chronicled on their new album, “Transgender Dysphoria Blues.” (April 2 at First Avenue)
Phantogram — The electronic New York girl/boy rock duo has come into its own, with a livelier live show to match the mesmerizing moodiness of the new album, “Voices.” (April 13 at First Avenue)
5 SXSW STANDOUTS TO DOWNLOAD
Hurray for the Riff Raff — Led by Alynda Lee Segarra, a Bronx native with a husky but pretty voice, this New Orleans-based ensemble spiritedly blended country, Cajun and folk behind evocative songs about death, love and other sad stuff.
Kelis — The “Milkshake” queen added to the hype for her new album “Food,” produced by TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek and due out April 18.
Torres — Brooklyn-based, Georgia-reared indie songstress Mackenzie Scott, age 23, played an intense, darkly tinged, sometimes frenzied brand of distorted purr-to-roar rock with traces of PJ Harvey and Patti Smith.
The Autumn Defense — Co-leaders John Stirratt and Pat Sansone harked back to early albums by their other band, Wilco, with a strong batch of new songs.
Bo Ningen — Until these experimental Japanese rockers grace us with their insane live show, their booming recordings will do for wild-ride value.
See our daily reviews from the fest at startribune.com/sxsw.